Defra clarifies implementation of CAP Greening but admits details still lacking

Defra minister Elizabeth Truss announced further details yesterday (Thursday 14 August) of what the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) greening rules will mean for farmers and growers.

Liz Truss - image:Policy Exchange
Liz Truss - image:Policy Exchange

Growers have been particularly concerned about the "three crop rule", which requires farms over 30ha of arable land to grow three different crops from the start of next year in order to remain eligible for support.

According to Defra's newly published guidance, three crops can be grown over the course of a year, with a two-month inspection window of May and June set for inspections, which will be carried out on five percent of farms.

Defra is also pushing for other forms of evidence to be acceptable, such as physical signs or organic matter in the soil, or photographs and records, and says it will work with industry to explore exceptions for late-sown crops or crops with very short growing periods.

Further details on the hedge requirements have also been announced, with Defra pressing the EU for the final details.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: "I will press the Commission for increased clarity and flexibility on greening, including a review of the three crop rule. I will champion the interests of our farmers so that they can continue to concentrate on what they do best – producing top-quality, world-class food."

NFU president Meurig Raymond said that while the guidance gave much-needed information to farmers and growers who were about to plant this autumn, there were areas still lacking in detail.

"I am hugely frustrated that we still don't have practical clarity over how all hedges, which are part of ecological focus areas, are measured," he said.

"This means farmers still have a challenge in knowing exactly what the rules are if they wish to use this EFA feature which they have on farm."

He blamed "a lack of timely guidance from the European Commission" for hindering implementation of the measures, and said:"I would urge the Commission to put this right so that farmers have the clarity and guidance to make necessary, practical business decisions."

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